Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Big City Events. I have been compensated for my time and writing and am involved in the event discussed in this post. I helped to promote the event and was a Judge during the event for the restaurants. These opinions posted in this blog are my own and do not represent the views of Big City Events or the participating restaurants.
Last night was the 2nd Annual Sushi Battle Tampa Bay presented by Sapporo at the St. Pete Coliseum located on 4th Avenue North in Downtown St. Petersburg. Restaurants participated in a competition for who has the Best Sushi in Tampa Bay with a category decided by the audience and one decided by judges. Sake distillers hosted a special tasting upstairs and group sake bombs were enjoyed downstairs. The event was organized by Big City Events.
Participating restaurants included Ocean Prime, YO! Sushi, Pisces Sushi and Global Bistro, iThai Sushi, Kona Grill, Yume Sushi Restaurant, Wabi Sabi Fusion Cafe, and Ciccio/Water. Restaurants provided sushi samples to guests while they enjoyed Japanese cultural performances from Tampa Taiko, a live DJ set from DJ Fresh, sumo wrestling, and other festivities.
Each restaurant brought something different to the table and the event definitely evolved from the year before with a larger venue and and a more controlled audience. Most of the restaurants also did good planning and many of them were still serving sushi samples well into the final parts of the event. The categories for judging the sushi were presentation, creativity, and taste for event judges. In addition, there was a people’s choice award.
I was torn between Ocean Prime and Wabi Sabi Asian Fusion as my two favorite sushi spots as a judge at the event. Ocean Prime has such delicious sushi rolls, the quality was really there – but the creativity was a little bit mixed for me. They went with a more traditional kind of sushi roll at least as far as the design goes. Wabi Sabi Asian Fusion provided 5 different types of sushi to people at their booth and each one showcased creative sushi chef talent that I really enjoyed. I want to definitely take a trip to Palm Harbor sometime to visit Wabi Sabi in the near future.
Another top choice for me at the event was Pisces Sushi and Global Bistro, they brought a truly delicious sushi roll to the event. It was somewhere between the delicious taste of Ocean Prime and the creativity of Wabi Sabi for me. Pisces ended up winning the judges category of the competition.
I was actually unaware that Ocean Prime served sushi prior to being involved in this event. Regardless of my top choices – all the restaurants did a good job and provided more than your California Roll to the event – many restaurants provided multiple options which was great for the consumer and there was variety in the types of fish presented.
Tampa Taiko stole the show again and provided excellent Japanese taiko drumming performances throughout the event. I’ve been working with Tampa Taiko on events since I was part of the Japanese Club at USF back in 2009 and they have always been a supportive community member that puts everything they have into their work.
The Japanese Club participated in the event again and tabled with the help of the Japanese-America Society of Tampa Bay and shared a booth with the Foodies Club that helped spread the event on social media using the hashtag #SushiBattle on Twitter and Instagram.
Overall, the Sushi Battle Tampa Bay improved from last year and in my opinion it was a fun night filled with a variety of food, drinks, and entertainment. I’m looking forward to seeing where the event goes in the future and am thankful to everyone who helped make it a success for a second year in a row. It can only go up from here.